Phillipa McCormack

UTAS Home Ms Phillipa McCormack

Phillipa McCormack

PhD Candidate

Room 1.10, Faculty of Law, Sandy Bay Campus

+61 3 6226 7568 (phone)

+61 3 6226 7623 (fax)

Phillipa graduated from UTAS in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts (Social Ecology), Bachelor of Laws (with First Class Honours) and a University medal. She took a position in Melbourne as an articled clerk and then solicitor in the Government and Environment group at international law firm Blake Dawson (now Ashurst Australia). Phillipa was admitted to practice in 2009 as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia. In 2010 she took a position as senior associate to the Hon. Justice Lex Lasry at the Supreme Court of Victoria. While in Melbourne, Phillipa held the positions of Assistant-Secretary of the Victorian Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists; and Co-Chair of the Green Practice Project with the Law Institute of Victoria. Phillipa commenced her PhD candidature at UTAS in February 2013.


PhD Topic

'How can Australia's legal frameworks for biodiversity conservation and natural resource management better facilitate adaptation under climate change?'

This thesis examines the regulatory framework for biodiversity conservation and natural resource management in Australia, in the context of significant historical biodiversity decline and the potentially catastrophic impact of projected climate change on species and ecosystems. The thesis proposes that legal frameworks should operate to enable and enhance biodiversity adaptation and should, themselves, be adaptable under change. Given the threat to biodiversity from climate change and the clear resulting conservation imperative, this thesis argues that, at the very least, legal frameworks should not hinder adaptation under climate change.


  • Prof. Jan McDonald (Faculty of Law, UTAS)
  • Assoc Prof Michael Lockwood (School of Geography and Environmental Studies, UTAS)
  • Ms Louise Gilfedder (DPIPWE, Tasmanian Government)

Conference and Symposia Presentations

Presentation at the National NCCARF Conference in Sydney from 24-27 June 2013, 'Biodiversity Conservation and NRM Legal Frameworks: Can We Do Better?'

Presentation at University of Tasmania Law Faculty Research Symposium in Hobart on 18 November 2013, ‘Biodiversity conservation and climate adaptation in the law’

Presentation at the Adaptation Futures conference in Fortaleza, Brazil from 12-16 May 2014, 'Assisted colonisation and the law: natural ecosystems under + 4 degrees C'.

Poster presentation at the Adaptation Futures conference in Fortaleza, Brazil from 12-16 May 2014, 'Climate - Adapted Policy Objectives: Barriers to Adaptation in Australian Law'.

Presentation at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney from 14 November 2014, 'Re-thinking conservation objectives for protected areas under climate change: the role of the law'.

Panellist and presentation for the Hobart Symposium of a National Panel Series hosted by the Animal Law Institute, on 10 February 2016, 'What can animal law learn from environmental law?'

Presentation at the Re-wilding Tasmania Symposium in Hobart on 20 February 2015, 'Rewilding and Novel Ecosystems: Reforming Nostalgic Laws to Promote Adaptive Conservation'

Presentation at the International Species on the Move conference in Hobart from 8-12 February 2016, 'Developing dynamic law and policy for conservation introductions under climate change'.

Three Minute Thesis presentation for the Tasmanian Royal Society in Hobart on 4 Oct 2016, ‘Biodiversity conservation law and climate change: can we do better?’

Presentation at National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF)/Centre for Marine Socioecology (CMS) public symposium in Hobart on 13 Dec 2016, ‘The challenge of climate change for Australia’s conservation laws’

Presentation to the Australian Plants Society of Tasmania, Northern Group in Launceston on 21 March 2017, ‘Does climate change change everything? Rethinking conservation laws to promote biodiversity adaptation’

Scholarships, Grants and Prizes

McDougall Faculty of Law Postgraduate Scholarship (2014).

Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists Scholarship and participant in Scholarship Masterclass Program (2015).

Neasy Faculty of Law Postgraduate Scholarship (2015).

2016 NCCARF grant to research climate-adaptive conservation objectives in law (external, co-recipient, $5,000).

2015 UTAS ABL Hub cross-disciplinary grant for research project into conservation objectives in law – background paper and workshop (internal, co-recipient, $6,000).

Co-winner 2017 Sun Foundation Women in Science Prize competition, Earth, Environment & Space Category ($20,000), drawing on recent papers Phillipa co-authored in Science (link here) and Biological Reviews (link here).

Winner of the 2017 Australian Academy of Law essay competition ($10,000).

View more on Ms Phillipa McCormack in WARP

Fields of Research

  • Environmental and Natural Resources Law (180111)
  • Conservation and Biodiversity (050202)
  • Heritage and Cultural Conservation (210202)
  • Global Change Biology (069902)
  • Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology) (060205)
  • Ecological Impacts of Climate Change (050101)
  • Studies in Human Society (169999)

Research Objectives

  • Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies (970118)
  • Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards (960799)
  • Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage (950302)
  • Climate and Climate Change (960399)
  • Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas at Regional or Larger Scales (961308)
  • Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales (960805)
  • Global Effects of Climate Change and Variability (excl. Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific) (excl. Social Impacts) (960310)
  • Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) (960307)
  • Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability (960311)


Total publications


Journal Article

(8 outputs)
2018Bonebrake TC, Brown CJ, Bell JD, Blanchard JL, Chauvenet A, et al., 'Managing consequences of climate-driven species redistribution requires integration of ecology, conservation and social science', Biological Reviews, 93, (1) pp. 284-305. ISSN 1464-7931 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/brv.12344 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 11

Co-authors: Blanchard JL; Champion C; Clark TD; Frusher S; Hobday AJ; Lee E; McDonald J; Twiname S; Villanueva C; Wapstra E; Pecl GT


2018McCormack PC, 'Conservation Introductions for Biodiversity Adaptation under Climate Change', Transnational Environmental Law, 7, (2) pp. 323-345. ISSN 2047-1025 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1017/S2047102517000383 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 2


2017Pecl GT, Araujo MB, Bell JD, Blanchard J, Bonebreak TC, et al., 'Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being', Science, 355, (6332) Article eaai9214. ISSN 0036-8075 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1126/science.aai9214 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 143Web of Science - 130

Co-authors: Pecl GT; Blanchard J; Clark TD; Frusher S; Jennings S; McDonald J; Villanueva C; Wapstra E


2017Runge CA, Gallo-Cajiao E, Carey MJ, Garnett ST, Fuller RA, et al., 'Coordinating domestic legislation and international agreements to conserve migratory species: a case study from Australia', Conservation Letters, 10, (6) pp. 765-772. ISSN 1755-263X (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/conl.12345 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1


2016McDonald J, McCormack PC, Fleming AJ, Harris RMB, Lockwood M, 'Rethinking legal objectives for climate-adaptive conservation', Ecology and Society, 21, (2) Article 25. ISSN 1708-3087 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5751/ES-08460-210225 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6Web of Science - 6

Co-authors: McDonald J; Fleming AJ; Harris RMB; Lockwood M


2016McDonald J, McCormack PC, Foerster A, 'Promoting resilience to climate change in Australian conservation law: the case of biodiversity offsets', University of New South Wales Law Journal, 39, (4) pp. 1612-1651. ISSN 0313-0096 (2016) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 4

Co-authors: McDonald J; Foerster A


2016P C McCormack, 'Negotiating 'one-stop shop' reforms: Commonwealth-state relations and the public interest', Australian Environment Review, 31, (8) ISSN 1035-137X (2016) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

2014McCormack P, McDonald J, 'Adaptation strategies for biodiversity conservation: Has Australian law got what it takes?', Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 31 pp. 114-136. ISSN 0813-300X (2014) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: McDonald J


Other Public Output

(2 outputs)
2016Lee E, McCormack P, Michael P, Molloy SW, Mustonen T, et al., 'The language of science: Essential ingredients for indigenous participation', [squared brackets], Convention on Biological DIversity, Canada, 10, pp. 22-24. (2016) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Lee E

2016P C McCormack, McDonald J, 'We can't save all wildlife, so conservation laws need to change', The Conversation, Conversation Media Trust, Australia, 4 July (2016) [Magazine Article]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: McDonald J


Grants & Funding

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Peer Prize for Women 2017, Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being (2017)$20,000
This is funding awarded as a prize, The Thinkable Peer Prize for Women 2017, and given to UTAS as a donation. It will be spent on research related to the prize nomination topic interdisciplinary investigations of climate-driven species redistribution.
Donation via University of Tasmania Foundation ($20,000)
Donation - Individual
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Pecl GT; Blanchard JL; McDonald J; McCormack P; Jennings SM; Villanueva MC